On October 29 I will be toeing the line at the 2022 Javelina Jundred 100 mile race. For those of you who are not familiar with the race, the Javelina Jundred is a Halloween themed desert race that takes place at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills, AZ, not far outside of Phoenix, AZ.
This year is the 20th edition of the Javelina Jundred. Javelina, as a Golden Ticket race in 2022 for the Western States 100, is a very competitive race with multiple elite runners lining up to race. The course consists of 5 loops of runnable single-track and dirt roads with around 8,000 feet of total elevation gain. Normally the winning time is between 13-14 hours, which is close to an 8 minute mile pace for 100 miles.
Designing the Training Block:
The Javelina Jundred will be the first “runnable” 100 mile race that I have done. The five 100 mile races I have completed up to this point all had at least 20,000 feet of vertical gain in the race and would be considered mountain races. In mountain races things like hiking, overall strength, downhill running, and extended time between aid stations, are all important elements in being successful. With a runnable race, where elite runners often run under 14 or 15 hours, it takes different elements to be successful. In my opinion, a successful training plan, especially if someone wants to get the best performance out of themselves, must be designed around the particular race.
For the Javelina Jundred training block I have identified three things to specifically design the training block around: running efficiency, running volume, and consistent long runs.
1) Running Efficiency:
My primary focus for this training block was running efficiency. While running efficiency is always important, it becomes more important the flatter and faster the race is. Javalena is a race where many of the elite runners will be running between 7- and 9-minute miles much of the race.
2) Running Volume:
My second focus for the race was overall running volume. While this is not typically a focus for me in a training block, because I often focus on quality workouts over running volume, I wanted to maintain a high level of overall mileage each week throughout the training block.
3) Consistent long runs:
The third focus for this training block was doing a long run every weekend of the training block. Sometimes when training for other races I may do long runs every 2 weeks or so, but this training block I wanted to do a long run pretty much every weekend.
My big debate: Going into this training block I had a pretty big debate in my mind on whether or not I should focus more on fitness (threshold work) or more on overall running volume. Ultimately I focused on volume over fitness. In the past I have gotten the best results, and felt the fittest, when I focus on really quality threshold work. While I am not opposed to the idea of doing solid threshold workouts each week and doing solid volume, I have yet to be able to balance both of these focuses with working full-time, being married, and having 3 boys! So normally I end up focusing more on volume or more on fitness. For this race I chose volume. Time will tell if this was a good idea, haha!
Reviewing the Training:
Overall, I am very pleased with the training block. I was able to ramp up mileage pretty quickly without too many issues. One thing that helped was the two weeks preceding the training block. In the two weeks preceding the training block I did a ton of time on feet in the mountains of Colorado. In the course of the two weeks I did 26+ hours of very slow mountain running and hiking with around 22,000 feet of elevation gain at an average elevation over 10,000 feet. And I got some much needed mental motivation before the training block by getting to pace at the Hardrock 100. While this couldn't be further from what Javalena will be like, I do believe this provided some much needed strength, time on feet, and fitness going into the training block.
One of the things I focused on in the first three weeks of training was becoming more fat adapted. I have been a fat adapted runner for about three years and this is something I like to do at the beginning of a training block. The basic idea is that I do a ton of fasted runs, eat no carbs on a day to day basis, and do all of the long runs fasted and without carbs. This helps the body to become more fat adapted for the rest of the training block. I only did this for three weeks, as this is not sustainable for the entire training block. After these three weeks I took in more carbs before and during workouts and long runs.
In terms of the mileage, I wanted to have a higher average mileage throughout the eleven weeks of training, but I found with everything else going on in life and my schedule, 85 miles a week was about as much as I could handle. In the 11 weeks of training I ran 856 miles. This averaged out to about 77 miles a week and I had 5 weeks in a row of at least 85 miles a week. My highest week was around 86 miles, but I did have a few rolling 7 day periods where I was over 100+ miles, because of the days I did my long runs on.
One of the things I did during this training block was pretty much ditch the trail runs. While this is a huge bummer, because I love the trails haha, I wanted to mostly run on paved greenway trails and gravel paths. When you run on flat runnable stuff versus trails it naturally helps with running efficiency. The thing I am less sure about in terms of running efficiency is the choice to pick overall running volume over fitness. While my running efficiency feels good, I certainly do not feel as fast or efficient as when I focus solely on threshold type of training. But with the volume and consistency of long runs, I did not feel that I could do that type of work. As you will see most of my running efficiency workouts are pretty moderate.
Workouts during training block:
5 miles steady state 6:30 pace
20 minute fartlek at 6:40 pace
30 minute fartlek at 6:30 pace
6 mile fartlek at 6:25 pace
8x300m on a slight hill at 5:00 pace
5x1 mile at 5:50 pace
8x300m slight hill under 5:00 pace
4x800m at 6:00 pace (pacing my son for a workout)
The fartlek workouts are pretty good for working on running efficiency, without adding a lot of stress to the body, but they are not going to get you super fit. Overall I think I did a good job of doing at least something that is a little faster each week, but the emphasis was certainly on the quality long runs each week and overall running volume.
In the image below from the Coros Training Hub, you can see that my fitness and running efficiency increased throughout the training block. The first day of training was July 26 which is almost the low point on the graph showing my threshold pace (pace I could hold for an hour). During the training block my threshold pace went from around 6:15 to around 5:30, which shows clear improvement over the 11 weeks, although this is certainly not the fastest my threshold pace has ever been.
The thing I am probably most pleased about from this training block is the long runs. I had very consistent long runs and felt good on almost all of them. In each of the long runs, I focused on endurance pace, on terrain that I thought would be pretty similar to Javalena in terms of elevation gain and how runnable it was. I also focused on nutrition and hydration, just like in the race, for the last half of the long runs.
Here are my long runs for the training block:
21 miles at a 7:13 pace
21 miles at a 7:04 pace
21 miles at a 6:58 pace
18 miles at a 7:28 pace
20 miles at a 7:28 pace
28 miles at a 7:24 pace
20 miles at a 7:16 pace
20 miles at a 7:05 pace
Overall I am pleased with the consistency of long runs and how these paces felt on the runs. I certainly could have done "longer" long runs but I do not feel like there are huge benefits for me going much beyond 25 miles on a long run, considering the recovery needed after these runs. I think when someone is training for their first couple 100's really long runs are more important, but once you get over that mental barrier of knowing you can do it, I think long runs of 20-25 miles work just fine and allow you to recover quick enough to continue training.
Below you will see my base fitness gains on the Coros Training Hub. When the training block started my base fitness was around 80 and it increased to a high of about 120 during the training block. This is not the highest it has ever been during a training block, but it is pretty close to the highest it has been.
One last thing to note about the training. The vast majority of my training, and most training for 100 mile races, was all done in zone 1 and zone 2. I believe, and I think most of the research would back this up, that for really long endurance stuff zone 1 and 2 are most important.
Lastly, I decided at the end of the training block to do a three week taper leading into the race. While I would normally do a two week taper, I wanted to try a little longer taper since this average mileage each week was a little higher than I would normally do. Without the higher volume, and with more of an emphasis on fitness, I normally only do a 12-14 day taper. With the three week taper I will reduce mileage 35% on week 1 from the highest week, and 50% on week two from the highest week. For race week I will just do a pretty chill run each day with a little bit of intensity to get the body ready to race. In week 1 and 2 of the taper I will also begin to sprinkle back in some intensity as the mileage goes lower.
If you made it this far in the blog you must love the philosophy behind training as much as I do! If you decide to run Javelina Jundred and need some coaching feel free to reach out here.